Friday, 14 November 2008

REVIEW: "Chav Scum Kills God"

So while The Teenage Theatre Critic is off at the opera and the Royal Ballet I’m reviewing a play called Chav Scum Kills God. Just a touch of a difference.

And between you and me? I think I may have made the right choice.

The first full length play from Drew Davies, Chav Scum follows...well...a chav named Robert (Bradley Benjamin) as he wakes up in Hell, which resembles an empty waiting room. Greeted by the Other (Michael Lindall), a cross between a psych ward assistant and Kryten from Red Dwarf, Robert is informed that he died in a car crash while choking on his KFC. Fortunately, Hell is what you make of it: the only people put through severe torture are those who feel they deserve it. Likewise, there are chances to climb Hell’s social ladder as revealed by Robert’s father (Des Brittain) who is sleeping his way to the middle class via the great dictators. It all ends up with Robert proclaimed as the chosen one, destined to wear a time bomb necklace into Heaven and kill God in a blow for equality - after all, people in Heaven get better moisturiser.

Sound horrible? Amazingly it’s not, but I’m not claiming that it’s brilliant either.

The problems with the show lie with Robert and his father: the characters are utterly dull though Benjamin and Lindall work their best with what they’ve got. Likewise Sarah Alborn makes the most out of her one scene as Kathy (details involve plenty of spoilers) but she too falls into the “chav stereotypes are so 2006” category, and the ending may make its point but it’s dramatically unsatisfying.

Where Chav Scum shines (besides its brevity - the runtime is 90 min. including an interval of questionable value) is with the two characters running interference: the aforementioned Other has two incarnations - one for Hell and Heaven - and Lindall fills his time onstage with subtle movements gestures which are not only good for laughs but also enhance rather than detract from points where the Other is not the focus - think of Penny’s role in Hairspray during “I Can Hear The Bells” and the Madison sequence for a comparison.

The other character whom I dearly adored was Jonathan Hansler’s Lou, aka Satan as interpreted by George Carlin. It’s easy to see why people would follow this devil, as he oozes charm and straight talk while manipulating his surroundings.

To sum it up: Fun time, worth popping in, and short enough that if you like it you can leave after 40 minutes at the interval or stay for the whole time and still make it to the pub for multiple rounds after.

Where: Courtyard
When: Until 30 Nov., Tu-Su @ 19:30
How Much: £12.50
Concessions: £10, local residents with proof of address can get £5 tickets until the 16th
RZ Unofficial “Worth Paying”: £10. Cheaper than a film at Leicester Square, but not quite good enough to justify the full price.
RZ Other Notes: This production is in the Courtyard’s studio which is a) warm, b) unreserved seating and c) not raked. Complicating matters is a concurrent run of Measure for Measure in the main house which, the night I went, looked to be loaded with school groups that crowd the limited waiting area. Fortunately Chav Scum lets out before Measure can even reach its interval.

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